It is important to remember that the Internet does not guarantee complete anonymity: if you wish, you can find out a lot about any user, even if he did not indicate any personal information on the network. However, there are services that can improve the level of anonymity and security on the network. Tor Project – one of them.
Tor is short for The Onion Router, which literally translates into Russian as “onion router”. Onion (layered) routing technology was developed for the United States Navy. Its idea is to preserve the anonymity of the sender and recipient of a message by passing information through a sequence of routers.
Upon receiving the encrypted message, the router removes the encryption layer to expose the trace instructions, re-encrypts the message, and transmits it to another router, where it repeats. Thanks to this approach, the anonymity of the message remains, even if someone succeeds in hacking one or more routers.
The number of intermediate routers is randomly selected. Onion routing is called because the structure of the transmitted message is similar to an onion: it consists of several layers, each router “rips” one layer from the onion, that is, it removes one layer of encryption. The first node in the chain does not know the real addressee, and the last one does not know the real sender.
In 2002, the technology was declassified, and the source code was transferred to independent developers to create client software. Tor is anonymous encrypted data transmission network, which was presented to the general public in 2004.
It is available not only to the military, but also to ordinary users. Tor allows users maintain anonymity on the Internet when working with applications that use the TCP protocol: browsers, torrent clients, etc.
Who can benefit from Tor? Regular users can use it to protect your privacy or access information that has been blocked by Internet censorship.
Tor services are also used by social workers and journalists for safe communication, organizations – to ensure the safety of their employees, corporations – for conducting competitive analysis, the military – to collect information from open sources, etc.
The Tor Project includes several ready-made solutions for almost all popular operating systems:
- Tails – a full-fledged operating system booted from a Live DVD or Live USB. It allows you to remain anonymous while browsing the Internet from any computer. It is a free operating system based on Debian GNU / Linux. It includes a number of pre-installed applications, in particular, a web browser, an IM client, an email client, an office suite, a graphics and audio editor, etc.
- Tor Browser Bundle – a web browser that guarantees anonymity and security of Internet surfing. It can be run directly from a USB flash drive without installing it. There are versions of the browser for the three most popular operating systems: Windows, Linux and OS X (up to version 10.8 known as Mac OS X).
- Orbot – an application for Android that allows you to surf the Internet, use instant messaging systems and e-mail clients without the risk of being under the supervision of a mobile Internet provider or being blocked by it.
- Arm – a console application for monitoring and configuring Tor.
- Obfsproxy – application for bypassing internet censorship.
- Stem – a library for writing scripts and applications that interact with Tor.
Of course, these are not all applications and services offered by Tor. It is distributed under the BSD license, that is, it is free software… This allows independent developers to create their own services and applications that use this anonymous network.
Of course, Tor cannot provide complete anonymity, and it has some other disadvantages as well. However, due to the openness of the project, bugs are quickly eliminated. A popularity of the project Is the best proof of its effectiveness.